Hampton High Valedictorians: When to Draw the Line

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Hampton High Valedictorians: When to Draw the Line

Gracie Hengelsberg

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Valedictorian. What is a Valedictorian? Believe it or not, the title stemmed from the Latin word valedicere, which means “to say farewell.” 

For nearly half a century, the district honored the two highest achieving students as Valedictorian and Salutatorian.  Pictured are two of Hampton High’s nearest and dearest salutatorians: Mrs. Dickensheets and Ms. Eskra. 

However, as of 2009, there were four valedictorians, and in 2010 there were five. In each year that followed, the valedictorians increased, reaching a total of 19 in 2014. At this point, people started to wonder: when will it end? That question was never truly answered, and 2016 was the last year that our school district honored the highest achieving students in this way. 

When this happened, there was a lot of controversy. People asked a variety of questions: 

 

  • Should the highest achieving students fight tooth and nail for a title that won’t matter after graduation? 

 

  • Should we ignore the hard work that students put into their high school career? 

 

  • How can we give students the recognition they deserve?

 

While it’s true that the margin between making the cut and being left unrecognized was miniscule, to me, that’s the purpose of the title: determination.

Personally, when I started high school, I was outraged. To think that we would stop honoring a student’s four years of diligence to avoid hurting others’ feelings felt unacceptable to me. Had our school district simply given in to the “everybody gets a trophy” ideology of the past decade? 

All that said, however, there are other titles that can be obtained by high-achieving students. This includes senior scholars, which is the top ten percent of the graduating class, along with the graduating titles that consist of Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Summa Cum Laude. To earn these titles, one must achieve a certain GPA. 

This is great and all, and as someone who will achieve at least the first Cum Laude, I can appreciate the sentiment. However, I have to ask: are these titles enough to give people the credit they deserve?

According to Dr. Imbarlina, “We got rid of valedictorian and replaced it with these titles because we wanted to create a less competitive and more group-oriented setting where students can excel without fighting over the big title.” 

After interviewing with her and hearing this, I started to come around to the idea. Maybe ending Valedictorians and replacing them with graduation recognition is the best way to meet in the middle of two opposing sides. Most of the students in Hampton know that they have to work hard to be successful, and a great deal of those students exceed even that. That deserves recognition. So maybe the end of Valedictorian is a change for the better at Hampton–but that’s up to you.